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BASW responds to Government’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’

Any plan that does not centre the rights and dignity of people of all ages is not an immigration and asylum system that we could support

Six weeks ago, the Home Office published a consultation document that outlined their proposals for asylum and immigration reform. We highlighted a number of these proposals which could most impact the social work profession, including age determination and routes to asylum.

Social workers have a number of key responsibilities within the immigration system: age assessment; the provision of support and accommodation for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children; supporting a destitute family with no recourse to public funds; or being responsible for a child who is an EU national and in care. Immigration and asylum issues are complex and wide-ranging, and we focused on those issues that relate to the social work task.

As part of developing our consultation response, we put out a survey to members to collect opinions and feedback to inform our response. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond, including members and the Immigration Asylum Trafficking Special Interest Group.

We also wrote to the Home Secretary earlier in the process, objecting to the timescales given for the consultation, which prevented organisations from doing more thorough consultation.

We received 90 responses from members, with 71% of respondents saying that they do not believe that the Government’s proposals in the New Plan for Immigration would create a fairer and more just immigration system.

Other results include:

  • 71% of respondents disagreed with the Government’s proposal to consider asylum applications inadmissible if the person has arrived in the UK after having passed through a country that the UK Government has determined to be ‘safe’.
  • 80% of respondents disagreed with the Government’s proposal to consider asylum applications inadmissible if the person has travelled to the UK through what the Government have determined to be an ‘illegal route’. 
  • 50% of respondents disagreed with the proposal to create a ‘National Age Assessment Board’ to set out the criteria, process and requirements to be followed to assess age, including what they describe as the most up to date scientific technology. 
  • 74% of respondents disagreed with the proposal to allow front-line immigration officers and other staff who are not social workers to be able to make reasonable initial age assessments. 

The information collected through this consultation with members will also inform our campaigning when the consultation turns into draft legislation.

As well as responding to the official consultation, we also wrote to the Home Office outlining our concerns with the proposals. 

Any plan that does not centre the rights and dignity of people of all ages is not an immigration and asylum system that we could support. We see these proposals as both retrograde in terms of national and international rights, and in many ways unworkable.